“and thus they were separated forever”

Claimant’s Appeal to the Secretary of the Interior

Atty Thomas Giffe

State of Tennessee County of Hamilton in the matter of claim for Widow’s Pension No. 288 -391 Katie Cleage claimant. On this Apr 6 1891.

Personally came before me Notary Public in and for aforesaid County and State the said Katie Cleage, Widow of Philip Cleage alias Klegg late a sergeant of Company A 1st U.S.C. artillery heavy volunteers a citizen of the town of Chattanooga, county of Hamilton State of Tennessee, well known to me to be reputable and entitled to credit and who, being duly sworn declares in relation to the aforesaid case as follows:

That her claim or widow’s pension, having been rejected for the following reasons: that the evidence fails to show that she is the lawful widow of the soldier, or was ever married to him.

It has been shown that ever since the death of her husband that her sister-in-law and her brothers-in-law has been trying to supplant her and cheat her out of her just dues. And she believes that they have imposed upon the Hon. 2nd auditor by stating that the soldier had no wife and did they, perhaps, receive the pay, which was justly and rightly due to her. And she is willing and anxious to submit to the strictest scrutiny of this case. And therefore the Claimant appeals for a reconsideration of her Claim for the reason that gross injustice has been done to her in the rejection of this her claim.

As it has been shown that she was a poor ignorant slave, young and childish, about 14 years of age when Mr. Cleage, her master insisted that she should marry Philip, another slave and while Mrs. Cleage was absent home, he – the master – read something, or at least had a book in his hand, and told them that they were married. And as her master is dead and her husband is dead and she has been unable to find any person who was present at the time except other slaves.

She has proven that they were furnished by her mistress, Mrs. Cleage, with a cabin in which to live, that two children were born to them, that the soldier acknowledged her as his wife that they were recognized by officers and others to be husband and wife, that they were permitted to room together in camp when all women not having husbands in the Regiment were ejected and that she insisted on accompanying him to the pest camp to wait upon him and minister to him, but was denied that privilege and thus they were separated forever.

And she had remained his widow these 25 long years, and when at last she asks for her lawful rights she is asked to prove her marriage, a thing which was never at that time recognized by the white people or slave owners, except that it served to keep them at home, by making them believe that they were married.

She hereby appoints, with full power of substitution and revocation, Thomas Giffe of Chattanooga as her true and lawful attorney to prosecute her claim. Her post office address is Cedar St. Chattanooga.

Katie (her X mark) Cleage


I found the information used in this post in Katie Cleage’s Pension file.

For links to the other posts in this series, click this link – Katie Cleage’s Pension Hearing

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